Extremadura will have more places in the school canteen and morning classroom for the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 academic years. This was announced by the Junta de Extremadura this Wednesday on the occasion of the Governing Council, whose contracting will have a global amount of 32.6 million euros. With this measure, the regional administration wants to guarantee the free service to all students who need it. The announcement was made by the regional spokesman, Juan Antonio González, who reported that this contract represents 13 million euros more than the previous contract and is expected to benefit some 15,300 students from 199 schools, compared to the current almost 11,000. “This increase in the budget, of 34.19% compared to the last contract, is due to the continued rise in prices, while the increase in the number of users responds to the measure of free service that has been applied since the past month of January and it is expected that it will generate a pull effect in the coming courses”, explained González.
The Junta de Extremadura has explained that it seeks to guarantee the free school canteen to as many students as possible, based on the number and size of the canteens, and the number of students, since the scope of the service is limited to the capacity of the facilities . “The Ministry of Education and Employment understands that with this number of users the school canteen service available in the region would be full,” reports the spokesperson.
There was a lack of foresight. Many parents say that their children could not use the school canteen
Maria Isabel Rengel, regional president of Freampa
The budget allocated to this contract increases with respect to the previously tendered. González has pointed out “that it has been agreed with the companies in the sector that have accepted it willingly, since it is fair with the price increase that we all suffer and it responds to their demands.” This measure, which has been applied in school canteens and morning classrooms managed directly by the Board since the beginning of this year, has also been extended to the 75 canteens in the region managed by Parents’ Associations (AMPA), most of them of them in concerted centers.
An announcement that María Isabel Rengel, regional president of the Regional Federation of Associations of Parents of Students (Freampa), has described as positive, since with the offer that was available up to now it would not be possible to serve all users who need he. “There was a lack of foresight, we have had communications from several parents in different educational centers of the Autonomous Community who ensure that their son or daughter could not use the school cafeteria”, since the quota was full.
Rengel added that this measure is good, since in addition to favoring the day-to-day life of families, for example, with regard to work-life balance, where there are many who have no one to leave their children with while they work, it also contributes to a balanced diet of schoolchildren, by having varied meals. The Federation considers it important that the number of places is adapted to the demand of the families that need it and asks the administration that this service reaches the institutes. “There are many students, for example, in the first year of ESO who are still children and it would be positive if they could also use the canteens”, Rengel asserts.
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Meanwhile, the National Catholic Confederation of Parents and Parents of Extremadura students (Concapa) have stated that it is a positive and gratifying measure. Its regional president, Tatiana Gutiérrez, has welcomed the announcement by the Junta de Extremadura and has assured that “it is essential that subsidized centers be included in the measure so that there is no difference between students.” In subsidized centers, many canteens are managed by the educational centers, but others are organized by the AMPA.
In all communities, being below a certain level of income in the family unit is the main requirement to access aid or bonuses from the school canteen, although it is not the only one, according to a report by Save the children. But, in general, the family income levels established to access the maximum aid are below the poverty line. Only in the Basque Country, Ceuta, Melilla, Galicia and Extremadura exceed it. On the other hand, this maximum aid does not mean that the service is free in five autonomous communities (La Rioja, Cantabria, the Balearic Islands, Madrid and Navarra). Therefore, families at risk of poverty with scholarships continue to have to pay part of the price of the school canteen.